Cubbin Concert

Christchurch Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, 2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch

13/06/2024 - 16/06/2024

Production Details

Director – Melanie Luckman

Cubbin Theatre Company

We’re bringing our special brand of music to you!
Join Cubbin Theatre Company and musical friends for a 40-minute concert of original Cubbin tunes and a few surprises.
Cubbin Concerts are a creative, joyous musical experience for you and your little ones, tailored especially for audiences under 5.
For what to expect when you come to the show, please visit our FAQs on our website. Please contact us at if you have any questions about the performance.
Check out our other events coming up at the Cloisters Studio at The Arts Centre, this year!
This season is kindly supported by Creative New Zealand.

13-16 June at Cloisters Studio, Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre

Show times: 10am, 11.30am except Saturday 15 June: 10am, 11.30am and 1pm and Sunday 16 June: 10am and 1pm.
Tickets available from humantix

Amy Straker
Hannah Wheeler
Andy Manning

Designer – Rosie Gilmore
Operator – William Burns

Music , Theatre ,

40 mins

Fun, silliness and an unexpected new ear worm.

Review by Charlotte Bell 14th Jun 2024

This review must start with an apology. Having woken up at 4am, by the 11:30am showtime my two-year-old has exhausted his reserves of good behaviour. He decides to insert himself into the production, playing the part of the world’s most disruptive audience member. Discovering that he can climb both under and over the raked seating, the performers have their work cut out for them to compete with this playground.

Cubbin Theatre’s intention is that children are very much welcomed as they are, celebrated in a space and society where they are often not tolerated. Had this been any other environment or show, I would probably have put it in the too-hard basket and stayed home, but having attended other shows over their six years in production, I know we are walking into a safe space.

We are welcomed into the Cloisters Theatre, where ample parking for prams and nearby bathrooms provides the first example of the needs of caregivers being considered. Art director Rosie Gilmore’s art installation of over 3,000 ribbons hanging in waves from the ceiling is striking against the black of an otherwise undressed theatre, the warm colours providing respite from the steely grey day outside.

A trio of performers patiently wait on stage, smiling and acknowledging us as we drift in. The familiar faces of Amy Straker and Hannah Wheeler are joined by newcomer Andy Manning. A talent pianist, their energy and positivity is a natural fit with the company’s original members. Director Melanie Luckman watches from the back with Technical Operator Will Burns.

The concert is primarily original music with some familiar songs thrown in. Piano, ukulele, percussive instruments and even an impressive (albeit imaginary) trumpet are played throughout the show. 

The highlight for my son is the percussive version of ‘Five Little Monkeys.’ Beginning by exploring the different tones and volumes of the various drums the three performers are playing, it’s both familiar and novel and he joins in enthusiastically. The anguished rock vibes of ‘Cats are like Animals’ puts me in mind of Kate Bush and is a personal highlight. The show is fun and silly throughout without being juvenile.

While not strictly intended as an interactive show, the performers are at ease and confident interacting with the audience. This gives the performance a fresh energy, and I believe if I returned tomorrow with a different audience, I would experience a different show. This sentiment is echoed when speaking to performer Hannah Wheeler after the show, who remarks on her excitement to perform for audiences of children, who are the like a fourth cast member.

Children can be brutal in their honesty. There is no restaurant critic as harsh as a three-year-old come dinner time, but equally, no compliment as sincere as one from a toddler who tells you they like your face. There are moments and songs when my son’s attention drifts, then others where he is held captivated. Watching the way he responds, and observing other audience members, young and old, is an additional source of entertainment for me.

The 40-minute run time feels pretty spot on for small people’s small attention spans, but we are welcomed by the performers to interact with them and their instruments before we leave. Playing the big drum with the “marshmallow sticks” and being encouraged by Andy on the piano will later be remarked on as my son’s favourite parts.

Advice for future theatre-goers would be to arrive early to settle into the space. For those of you with ‘active’ children like mine, I would encourage sitting at the front. Being latecomers to the show, we end in the back row. Sneaking to the front row for a couple of the songs, my son’s investment is far greater.

For those who can’t make it to the show, their album is available on most streaming services. My reflex with most other children’s music is to turn it off as soon as possible, but I find myself lingering in the car to catch the end of ‘For You,’ and happily humming ear worm ‘Dancing Mandarin’ as I make afternoon tea. 

Cubbin Theatre’s latest production is a testament to their intention of creating inclusive, engaging and entertaining theatre for young children and their caregivers. It is a space where the natural behaviour of children is not just tolerated but embraced, making it a unique and valuable experience for families.

Cubbin Theatre will return to the Cloisters Studio 29th August – 1st September with their show Sportsball. My son and I will be returning also, hopefully after a little more sleep.


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